Posts Tagged ‘president’

The (not so) Sweet Mysteries of Life

Friday, February 16th, 2024

By Bob Gaydos

Life is full of mysteries. Too many to solve and some (Why did Mario Cuomo not get on the plane to New Hampshire?*) never to be fully resolved. Lately, there are too many to keep up with.

Me and Mario Cuomo, circa late 1980’s, at a budget dinner presentation at the Governor’s Mansion in Albany, where he was apparently more comfortable than he would have been in the White House.

Me and Mario Cuomo, circa late 1980’s, at a budget dinner presentation at the Governor’s Mansion in Albany, where he was apparently more comfortable than he would have been in the White House.

 

     At such times, I lean on a tactic made famous by a favorite sports writer of mine from a half century ago or more, Jimmy Cannon. With a deep bow of respect:

  • Maybe it’s just me, but:  When the leading vocal critic of Vladimir Putin dies unexpectedly during a stroll at a prison in the Arctic and that critic, Alexei Navolny, is only 47 years old, is there any doubt that the Russian president, a well-known fan of poisoning his detractors, is behind it? The only mystery is what story the Kremlin will come up with to “explain” the death since there were no  10th-story windows for Navolny to fall out of.
  • Maybe it’s just me, but: If I am the governor of the state that just witnessed its crowning glory celebration of another Super Bowl win turn into a bloody mass shooting with one dead and more than 20 injured, including many children, I might want to rethink my state’s gun laws. In fact, I might think about actually having some. No sign yet that Missouri Gov. Mike Parson, a rock-ribbed, pro-gun Republican if there ever was one, has had such a moment of clarity. Parson, who was at the Kansas City celebration of the Chiefs’ championship, along with his wife and thousands of other happy fans, revealed that his security detail had quickly moved him and his wife to safety. Others had no such protection. In fact, Parson as governor has squelched efforts by Kansas City and St. Louis officials to pass stronger laws because of an increase in shooting deaths in both cities. He also supported a state law that forbad local police from enforcing stricter federal gun laws. The courts overturned that. Missouri has no state licensing requirement for possession of a rifle, shotgun or handgun, nor is any state permit required for purchase of those firearms, as per the NRA’s official site. It’s an open carry state. The shooting was reportedly the result of an argument among teenagers. The mystery: How do you live with yourself and your bloodied celebration just to get campaign donations from a corrupt organization?
  • Maybe it’s just me, but: When a former president, who has bankrupted several businesses, run a fraud university and phony charity, lied to banks and others about the value of his properties, been ordered by the court to pay $364 million in fines because of it, has routinely failed to pay lawyers and contractors and also showed a remarkable indifference to and ignorance of history and world affairs says he would be OK if Putin sent Russian troops against NATO countries who are behind on paying their dues, I don’t understand the so-called thinking of Americans who profess  patriotism, yet support such a man to be president of this country.
  • Maybe it’s just me, but: The decision by West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin not to launch an independent campaign for president under the No Labels Party — a rare wise decision by the retiring Democrat — should be enough to convince the phony baloney independent group to drop its efforts to field a spoiler in the 2024 presidential election. Manchin even said he didn’t want to play that role. The mystery here is, when the choice in November will be between democracy (Joe Biden) and fascism (Trump or another Republican wannabe Trump), why anyone would want to play that role.

*Mario Cuomo, the so-called “Hamlet on the Hudson,” was widely considered to be a leading candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination in 1992. He kept a plane on the runway with its motor running on the day to register for the New Hampshire primary, but never got on the plane. A lingering mystery.

rjgaydos@gmail.com

Donald and Nikki, How Will It End?

Friday, January 26th, 2024

By Bob Gaydos

Jack and Rose, together in “Titanic.”

Jack and Rose, together in “Titanic.”          

Throughout history, there has been no shortage of famous duos. Most famously perhaps, there was Romeo and Juliet. But also, remember Antony and Cleopatra, Ozzie and Harriet, Napoleon and Josephine, Abbott and Costello, Batman and Robin, Butch and Sundance, Sonny and Cher, Charles and Diana, Franklin and Eleanor, Heckle and Jeckle, Jekyll and Hyde, Bonnie and Clyde

    That seems an appropriate place to stop to consider this year’s dynamic duo: Donald and Nikki. A match made in MAGA heaven.

    Or maybe not.

     As Donald Trump’s would-be challengers for the Republican Party’s presidential nomination have quickly dropped by the wayside, being too honest (Chris Christie) or too boring (Ron DeSantis), the party found itself in January with only Nikki Haley still running against the man facing 91 felony indictments.

      This is all very un-Republican, what with Haley being a woman and an accomplished, outspoken one at that. Where are her traditional family values? Doesn’t she know her place? Did she really question Der Donald’s mental status just because he repeatedly confused her with Nancy Pelosi and said Joe Biden could ignite World War uh Two? Did she really suggest Trump (and Biden) might be too old to be president?

      Yes, she did and Trump reacted in his customary style, with insults and threats, typed in all caps and misspelled on his social media platform. The ultimate threat: Anyone supporting Haley will be cut off from any MAGA connection. Ostracized financially. Out of the cult.

      Still she persists, to borrow a Democratic Party notion. And, having shown some surprising support among Republicans in New Hampshire, she moves on to the primary in South Carolina, where she was a popular governor, offering a more traditional Republican message than Trump’s scorched-earth, I-am-a-victim-of-Biden-oppression-and-will-get-revenge-on-my-enemies-when-I-am-re-elected message.

    Haley presents a dilemma for those Republicans who can’t stand Trump, but are too afraid to say so because they need the votes of the aggrieved, angry whites who make up MAGA, the volatile base of the GOP, but who don’t outnumber the relatively sane voters populating the rest of the electorate.  Haley speaks to some of those people. When she wants to. Sometimes, she bows to the Trump persecution complex strategy. She’ll pardon him if necessary. But now that she seems to be on the verge of being labeled a disloyal, ungrateful (Trump did make her his UN ambassador) umm, woman, she runs the risk of breaking up the Donald/Nikki duo before it becomes official. Before the tango becomes a waltz. As in running mates. With Donald taking the lead, of course.

    Trump’s most avid supporters say that must never happen. Assuming Trump wins the Republican nomination and assuming he is not in prison and assuming the Supreme Court allows him to run anyway (not a given), the MAGAs want no part of Haley as a vice presidential candidate.

    But, if she is left standing and looking legit, she would bring some voters Trump can’t reach. Non-MAGA women. Some sane Republicans. And, as the daughter of parents who came from India, immigrants.

     I don’t see it happening, Trump being Trump. He likes the easy way, predictably obedient foot soldiers willing to take the fall and not complain or testify against him.

     For her part, Haley has tried to play it both ways, sometimes supporting Trump so as not to anger his base, and sometimes speaking the truth, acknowledging other views. Ignoring slavery as a cause of the Civil War, talking about raising the Social Security age and cutting government controls but, unlike Trump, supporting more U.S. support for Ukraine in its war with Russia and for Israel in its war against terrorist groups.

  Who knows, maybe Trump will be convicted of one or more of the 91 felonies before the Republican nominating convention. Maybe some judge will actually lock him up for defying a gag order.

   Liz Cheney, another accomplished, outspoken woman who was, in effect, expelled from the Republican Party for daring to speak the truth about Trump and the January 6 insurrection, has encouraged Haley to stay in the race. To continue the tango. The male chorus remains mute.

     It remains to be seen whether Donald and Nikki become a true couple or wind up like another famous duo, Jack and Rose on the Titanic. A brief flirtation, but only room for one on the raft.

rjgaydos@gmail.com

 

     

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Pine Cones, Politics and Power

Friday, January 19th, 2024
The pine cone revolution. RJ Photography

The pine cone revolution in Pine Bush.
RJ Photography

By Bob Gaydos

    Ivan Pavlov, who knew a bit about how to figure things out, had this bit of advice which can apply equally to journalists as well as scientists: “Don’t become a mere recorder of facts, but try to penetrate the mystery of their origin.”

     In a week of mysteries (to me, at least), the big mystery around my neck of upstate New York right now is why  there are so many pine cones on the ground. Even allowing for recent rainy weather, it’s been a mystery since the phenomenon started appearing on our property in the fall. Hundreds of cones were strewn about, still are, and social media chatter confirms that lots of neighbors have remarked on the same phenomenon, alternately complaining and wondering what to do with them.

      Responding as Pavlov would have me do, I tried to find answers, which proved to be not that simple. For me, the easiest answer to the pine cone glut appears to be evolution, which is both common sense and remarkable. The theory is that every two or three years (called “mast years”), pine trees produce far more than their normal number of cones, which contain seeds, in order to throw off the seed-gathering routine of their natural predators, such as squirrels, insects and birds, thus assuring the likelihood of enough seeds surviving and turning into future pine trees.

    Survival of the species. Something that is still taught in our schools. I think this is pretty darn clever of the pines, if you don’t mind crunching on the cones while you walk your dog, which I don’t. Mind, that is.

     What I do mind very much is a mystery which I have been struggling to understand for more than eight years. That is how an amoral, self-obsessed con man with no understanding of or regard for the Constitution has captured the minds and votes and loyalty of so many Americans.

    That phenomenon played out again in Iowa this week as Donald Trump swept the Republican caucuses for the party’s presidential nomination without even participating in any debates. Instead, he gave speeches about ordering mass deportations on his first day in office, if re-elected, talked about getting revenge on his enemies, and insisted he was immune from prosecution for the 91 felonies with which he is charged, many of which stem from his continued lie that the 2020 election was stolen from him.

     The mystery to me in Iowa (though not exclusively there) is that more than 90 percent of Republicans who said they voted for Trump also said they believed Joe Biden was not their legally elected president. This, after all the evidence produced to the contrary over nearly four years.

      Following Pavlov’s suggestion, I think the origin of this magical, self-deluding thinking might be found in the failure of schools and religious institutions in Iowa (and elsewhere) to actually fulfill their purported missions. Certainly, there has been little obvious evolutionary progress in many states in the development of tolerance and respect for others or for the value of actually learning something in school. Anyway, that’s my operating theory.

      The operating theory behind that theory is that it’s all about wealth and power. Control what people are taught and you can control the people and how they think and vote and there are wealthy, influential people behind the scenes doing just that within today’s Republican Party.

     The other mystery of the week took place in Denmark, where Queen Margrethe, the longest reigning monarch in Europe, which is big on monarchies, abdicated her throne to her son, Crown Prince Fredrick.

     My puzzlement is not so much over the 83-year-old queen turning over the keys to the kingdom to her son after 52 years of ruling, but rather why there is still a royal family being treated royally in Denmark. 

     While the queen’s role is purely ceremonial, with no connection whatever to the government, many Danes apparently like the history, fairy tales and traditions associated with their country, home of fairytale master Hans Christian Andersen. A kind of once-upon-a-time power.

     Margrethe was also very popular for her earthiness and rapport with other, non-royal, Danes. Some said they felt she explained to the world what Danes were all about.

      For this contribution to the Danish reputation, the royal family received 88.9 million Danish crowns, or a bit more than $13 million, in tax funds in 2022, a pittance, compared to what British royalty receives, but still, we’re talking millions.

       There’s no word yet on what the new king and his wife, soon to be queen consort, will receive as an allowance from grateful Danes. But this tradition of paying a “ruler” a handsome sum just because might explain why a certain greedy American politician might be doing all he can to take this crown-fighting democratic republic back to the days of rule by royal edict. Devolution from the revolution. The Danes’ fairy tale story would be an American horror story.

     At least the pine cones make sense.

rjgaydos@gmail.com

       

A Quiet Walk Midst an Insurrection

Saturday, January 6th, 2024

(This was written three years ago. The words still stand.)


By Bob Gaydos
   

The insurrection.

The insurrection.

  I took a walk around the pond  Wednesday afternoon, January 6, a little before 4:30. It was cold, but still light out. The sun had just begun to set. As I walked I thought about how lucky — privileged — I was to be able to enjoy such a quiet moment in such a beautiful place in such a shithole country.

    No, friends and family, I haven’t moved. I still live in America, in a particularly scenic part of it, I think. For new readers, that place is upstate New York. It’s a place where a man can be alone to enjoy nature, if the man turns off his electronic devices.

     Two hours of watching live news reports out of Washington, D.C., had made me feel something I had never felt before — a combination of fear, anger, sadness, shame and profound outrage. The calming words and presence of President-elect Joe Biden had finally broken the spell the scenes of chaos had cast on me. It will end, I told myself. It will not succeed. There aren’t enough of them. They are all fury and delusion, taking selfies as they lay waste to the seat of government of the country they profess to love. Ignorance and arrogance, the Trump formula. In the end, it fails, but oh the harm it does. He doesn’t care. They, the rioters, are too dumb to know. That’s the nicest way I can put it. Or they are racists. Or both.

       Those are the facts. And for several hours on a Wednesday afternoon, as our Congress was attempting to perform its constitutional duty of confirming a new president,  these “Make America Great Again” terrorists made it look like one of those “shithole countries“ their leader once referred to with intent to insult. Yep, that’s what it looked like to me. …

                                                              ***.                                     

        … As I resume writing, it is now a week later. Trump has been impeached, again. Incitement to insurrection. Five people died in the attempted coup on The Capitol, including a police officer who was beaten to death by the rioters. White rterrorists carrying a Blue Lives Matter flag killed a Capitol police officer. They spread feces and urine throughout the building. They ransacked offices and went looking for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Vice President Mike Pence. The whole time, the rioters took selfies of themselves. Eventually, they went home or some D.C. bar, apparently thinking that would be the end of it. Just a friendly little failed insurrection in the nation’s capital, broadcast live around the world.

           If you stop to think about it – and apparently the rioters did not — the ignorance is astounding. It is surpassed only by the hypocrisy of the Republican members of Congress who encouraged and invited the assault and who voted against seating Biden as the duly elected president, even after the insurrection had been quelled. They stuck to the lies of the election being stolen from Trump, even though every one of them – except for perhaps a couple of conspiracy lunatics — knows that that is a lie. It was Trump’s biggest and most dangerous lie. In truth, a treasonous lie.

         Since that now infamous Wednesday, much more has been revealed about the attack on the Capitol. It wasn’t as innocent as it first appeared. There was a plan. There may have been inside help from some Republican members of Congress. Maybe even from the Capitol police, who were woefully unprepared for a massive event that was announced well in advance. There was a delay in getting National Guard troops to the scene, perhaps caused by someone in the Defense Department.

          There will be investigations. May they go on for as long as necessary and bring to justice all those who we’re involved in this assault on America. Every last one of them. Homegrown terrorists. White supremacists. Members of Congress. Conspiracy nuts. Nazis. Klansmen. Racists. Pick a name. The list includes police and ex-military members as well. The attackers were virtually all white, which is why they are still alive. Lock them all up. People who bring swastikas and Confederate flags to attack the seat of the government of the United States of America deserve no mercy.

           Trump now stands accused by Congress and convicted by the majority of the American people and the rest of the world of Inciting an attempted overthrow of a duly elected government. But his accomplices in the Republican Party are also guilty. They have ignored his assault on democratic principles for four years, out of fear or for their own gain or because they agreed with him. They deserve what they’re reaping. The party deserves to die. May it be reborn in some semblance of a responsible political party, perhaps including those Republicans who had the courage to speak out publicly and fight against Trumpism.

            America has been put on notice. There are those among us, appearing publicly as patriotic citizens, but operating out of hate and fear that their dream of a white, Christian nation with everyone else second-class citizens, is about to die. And in their foolhardy effort to avoid that fate, they may have actually hastened it. Republicans who remained silent, evangelicals who remained silent as Trump ravaged democracy, all stand indicted. Those who supported him financially along the way and now seek to distance themselves, all stand indicted. Rupert Murdoch and Fox News stand indicted. 

            In a country Trump would call a “shithole,” those seeking to overthrow the government usually try to get the military on their side if they hope to succeed. When they don’t, they don’t. As I watched with Lester Holt on NBC News as the idiots stormed the Capitol, I kept thinking, well, sooner or later troops with weapons and bullets will arrive. Hopefully, with orders to shoot. I also was dumbfounded that people were posting images of themselves on the Internet as they perpetrated this terrorist attack against this nation and gave no thought to the fact that this would make it easy to track them down and arrest them. Ignorance and arrogance.

              Yes, we have a lot of work to do, but the first thing is not to give into Republican pleas of coming together for the good of the country. They spent four years quietly watching Trump tearing the country apart. They must pay the price. I repeat, there are many more of us than them and what is necessary now is for all who know and love and respect what this nation is about to speak out forcefully in defense of it. Bring to justice those responsible. Convict Trump. Convict him again and again on whatever charges may be filed when he leaves office. Teach young people that actions have accountability. When we get around to it, teach young people about civics and government and history in school again. Clearly a lot of Americans slept through those classes. Evangelical Christians are on their own in this one.

           Joe Biden faces a monumental task when he becomes president on January 20, but he will have full control of the Congress to back him up and, I believe, fervent support of a vast majority of Americans as well. That white mob that assaulted the Capitol was an embarrassment to this nation, but maybe a lesson as well. American exceptionalism was put to the lie.

            No, this is not a “shithole” country, yet. I can still take a quiet walk around the pond every day. But those who would take the right to feel that safe and at home in this country away from anyone whose skin color or nationality or religion or politics they find fault with must know there can be no healing until the wounds are closed, Not until the guilty are prosecuted and those who aided and abetted admit their guilt. Not until journalists are not casually referred to as “enemies of the people.” Not until children are not put in cages. Not until all lives truly matter.                      

            Enough.

rjgaydos@gmail.com

Bob Gaydos is writer-in-residence at zestoforange.com.

         

           

            

         

          

DeVito, Giuliani and Good Timing

Thursday, December 21st, 2023

By Bob Gaydos

Tommy DeVito in action.

Tommy DeVito in action.

  Timing, they say, is everything. Whoever “they” are, I tend to agree with them. And I’m also the first to admit that my timing on this column is terrible, from a journalistic viewpoint.

   But I don’t write to a deadline anymore and, well, a story is still a story, especially in these days of no more local newspapers.

    So, two stories that got my attention a while back involved a couple of guys who you could say are living, breathing examples of a certain type often referred to as stereotypical inhabitants of the North Jersey/New York City axis: Tommy DeVito and Rudy Giuliani.

     DeVito, for those who don’t follow sports, is a quarterback in the National Football League. That statement alone is testament to the fact that, when it comes to timing, DeVito’s has turned out to be almost mystical.

        DeVito is the starting quarterback for the New York Giants because the quarterback who started the season as number one suffered a serious injury and was replaced by the backup quarterback, who also was seriously injured. The team was also not playing well.

          Some might say right place, right time and, yes, that’s true, but DeVito, a 23-year-old graduate of  North Jersey’s famed Don Bosco High, had to put himself in that position.

           His football career at Syracuse and Illinois was unremarkable and he was not drafted as a quarterback by any NFL team. Time to look for a career that doesn’t require good downfield vision and a willingness to be slammed to the ground by 260-pound linemen?

          No, DeVito asked the Giants for a tryout and someone liked what he saw and DeVito got a walk-on spot as the team’s third (only in emergencies!) quarterback.

           Badaboom, badabing, and there’s the North Jersey kid who still lives with his parents playing quarterback as the moribund Giants suddenly win three straight games and lift all of North Jersey and much of New York City out of the football doldrums.

         Turns out the kid’s got guts, can take lots of hits and can throw the ball. And he’s got a confident attitude as demonstrated by an Italian hand gesture he made famous after his first three wins. Kind of an in-your-face don’t mess with us message folks from the area would recognize and the rest of the U.S. was introduced to via TV. 

  I mentioned first three wins because, as you may know, the honeymoon ended last weekend at the hands of the Saints, who tossed Devito’s hand gesture back at him.

     No bigee. He’s still the Giants starting quarterback, his teammates support him, he has an agent out of central casting for “Goodfellas,” a cousin named Danny DeVito (not that one) who throws a mean tailgate party and, yes, good timing.

    A story broke recently that his agent raised DeVito’s appearance fee to $20,000 from $10,000, because of his client’s sudden celebrity, and a pizza restaurant canceled the gig, saying they couldn’t afford it. DeVito didn’t miss a beat. He showed up free of charge, probably ordered a chicken parm and undoubtedly said the Giants will take care of the Eagles in their next game. The coach says he’s still the starting quarterback, for now.

     And Rudy? Last I heard, a jury in Atlanta had ordered him to pay two poll workers $148 million for defaming them as part of the Trump team’s efforts to steal the  2020 election.

       Giuliani also, of course, is charged with Trump and others of various crimes in trying to change the election results in Georgia. In fact, he is guilty of lying about the election across the country as Trump’s mouthpiece.

       I wondered if he had the money to pay the two poll workers, but then it turns out he filed for bankruptcy right after the verdict. Maybe he had the presence of mind to recognize that “billionaire” Trump wouldn’t care a whit about Giuliani’s problems when the ex-president has got more than enough of his own.

        How did “America’s Mayor” get here? Bad timing. After 9/11, when he was the dominant political figure in the country, a mayor leading a bloodied and angry New York City out of the rubble of the terrorist attack with courage and pride, he could have run for president and won.

   He did run, in 2008, but not with any sense of purpose and urgency or platform. He skipped the traditional GOP Iowa and New Hampshire primaries and got buried in Florida. Bad timing. He dropped out. He never acted like it was his place and time, which it might well have been. Then he disappeared until he went to work as Trump’s mouthpiece because, well, the allure of power was always there.

    Time, a fondness for power, many bad decisions and, reportedly, a problem with alcohol and Giuliani’s now, at 79, facing bankruptcy and prison. His time has run out.

     Meanwhile, Tommy DeVito hired a new agent to handle his public appearances. Good timing.

rjgaydos@gmail.com

 

GOP’s make believe presidential debates

Friday, November 10th, 2023

By Bob Gaydos

The Republican presidential debaters.

The Republican presidential debaters.

    Let me state at the outset that I have not watched any of the Republican Party “presidential” debates, nor do I anticipate watching any in the near future. I see no reason to subject myself to hours of meaningless posturing.

    I say meaningless because the Republican Party apparently is and will remain hostage to Donald Trump’s MAGA minions until and unless he is removed from the equation by a judge, jury or some higher power. 

      Thus far, no Republican has been capable of challenging him for leadership of the once-proud party, or even saying why he or she would be a better president than Trump. Even with years of evidence to make the case.

       Let me also note here that, while I haven’t watched any of the Republican debates, I have read many and varied accounts of them and am aware of the fact that no one on stage — not even Chris Christie, the most vocal Trump critic — could simply point to Trump’s reckless, self-serving, ineffectual approach to running the country, including promises unkept, and articulate what he or she would do or would have done differently. You know, maybe send in the National Guard right away on Jan. 6. Something concrete.

    The so-called presidential hopefuls appear to be campaigning to be the “best” one remaining should Trump — who leads all of them by a wide margin in polling among Republicans and who has ignored all the debates in favor of court appearances and campaign rallies, which he sometimes confuses — somehow turn out not to be the party’s nominee.

      But even then, with Republicans suffering losses in each election since Trump was elected president, the party presidential candidate would face the issue of how to gain more votes — appeal to a wider base of Americans  — without losing the MAGA base that is all Trump all the time.

        Democrats don’t have the same problem. While Republicans were debating, polls were “revealing” that Trump has a lead over President Biden in a hypothetical 2024 rematch. It happens all the time to incumbents.

     Age is supposedly one of the issues, even though Biden is 80 and Trump 77. I’m betting on Biden’s lifestyle and health care over Trump’s.

     But Biden also has an impressive presidential record of accomplishment to run on (employment is up, roads and bridges are being rebuilt, Medicare can negotiate drug prices, inflation is being wrestled down), a lifelong resume of leadership and — do not ignore this — a demonstrated respect for American democracy, the rule of law and the Constitution.

    Trump has none of that. And none of his so-called challengers seems willing to simply make that case. It’s as if we are supposed to simply trust that under another Trump administration America would not be further divided politically, more threatened by world leaders playing to Trump’s ego and ignorance and even more prone to believe the lies of charlatans.

    Polls notwithstanding,  Biden a year from now will have a strong record to run on while Trump may be in jail or in court or both. Answering to 91 felony counts can be time consuming. Even some of his allies are bailing on him in court cases and in books that also expose their complicity.

     Trump is simply a menace to democracy and doesn’t belong anywhere near the White House again. The facts and his daily statements make that abundantly clear to a majority of Americans. 

   In any campaign for president against Donald Trump, Joe Biden, as he did in 2020, can proudly, unequivocally and truthfully say that he represents America’s best choice to protect and preserve democracy.

     Apparently, other Republican “candidates” for president can’t find the courage to make the same case for themselves.

     Meaningless posturing.

rjgaydos@gmail.com

 

Want My Vote? Who Won in 2020?

Friday, October 20th, 2023

By Bob Gaydos

408D0046-5CB4-4AC5-A1AD-C3B82315CD7D     It may be a little early, what with Election Day still more than two weeks away, but I’m ready to announce my vote in any local, state or national office up for grabs: The Democrat.

      Any Democrat. Well, any unindicted Democrat, let’s say. Straight ticket. No Republicans. No contest. No need to drop off anymore campaign literature, local candidates. Save your pens for the undecided or uninformed potential voters out there. My mind’s made up.

     The decision was simple. After six decades of considering candidates’ positions on a variety of issues and trying to decide which one (of any political party) I preferred, my litmus test has come down to one, basic question: Has the candidate publicly declared Joe Biden as the legitimate winner of the 2020 presidential election?

     Since every Democrat has done this, this is only a trick question for Republicans. Basically, it means going on the record and saying Donald Trump is a lying sore loser, a threat to democracy and should never hold public office of any kind again

     I know that might be a little difficult for some local Republicans to tell their constituents, even though they believe it, but you know what Harry Truman said about the heat and the kitchen. (Google it if you don’t.)

    Local Republican candidates everywhere, not just in my little corner of slightly upstate New York, have been coasting on the Trump question for seven years now. Either they’re with him or they’re agin’ him. Keeping quiet just to get elected or reelected won’t cut it. That’s how Trump got where he is today and that’s how the Republican Party got where it is today: Unable to even pick a Speaker of the House of Representatives in which it is the majority party because too many Republicans were afraid to stand up to a small group of ignorant Trump acolytes, who know nothing and care not a whit about bipartisan governing. 

     Silence is consent. And who wants to vote for a candidate who is afraid to speak his or her own mind?

      If the Republican Party has any hope of ever again being considered a legitimate, pro-democracy organization, it must rid itself of Trump and Trumpers. Sitting and waiting for the courts to possibly do it is the cowards’ way out.

     Otherwise, it can just continue on the path to Fascism, depriving certain groups of people of the vote, operating through fear and retribution, lying, cheating and threatening those who stand in its way. Vladimir Putin couldn’t ask for a better ally in his worldwide campaign against democracies.

      What has this got to do with my local county legislator or town councilman? Everything. That’s where it starts. Quiet coverups. Special favors. Refusal to compromise. And, in this case, failure to uphold long-standing Republican Party principles because the party needed bigger numbers. Failure to say, “We don’t do that.”

     The once unacceptable becomes accepted, commonplace, routine, expected. It works its way up the chain. It sells its soul to ignorance and avarice in exchange for perceived power and glory. Democracy be damned.

      It says a serial liar, twice-impeached, four times indicted narcissist facing 91 felony counts is the best person to carry the beacon of democracy for America

      I say, if you’re a local Republican candidate and you don’t believe in all that, I’ll look at your record and views and consider voting for you. Not until then. You don’t have to knock on my door to do it. Just post it on your Facebook page.

      And keep your Trump buttons.

rjgaydos@gmail.com

Shohei, 45 and Prigozhin: Pick One

Sunday, August 27th, 2023

By Bob Gaydos

P.T. Barnum, like Trup, knew how to make a shady buck.

P.T. Barnum, like Trump, knew how to make a shady buck.

    Occasionally, the Universe conspires to make life a bit more challenging for those who cover the news of the day, as in the previous week when three major stories competed for front page attention, (1.) the much-anticipated assassination in Russia of Yevgeny Prigozhin, (2.) the eagerly awaited arrest and first-ever mugshot taking of a former American president, in Atlanta, and (3.) the totally unexpected report from Los Angeles that the best player in baseball, Shohei Ohtani, the only successful pitcher/hitter since Babe Ruth, had suffered a serious injury to the elbow of his pitching arm and will (4.) require Tommy John surgery (named after the first pitcher to have it done*) or full arm rest to repair his elbow, meaning he will not pitch again this year, or ever again, and will likely (5.) see his asking price for a new contract when he is a free agent at the end of the year fall by a few hundred million dollars (that is correct for non-sports fans), and maybe even worse, put an end to his brief but marvelous career as simultaneously one of the game’s great pitchers and hitters, limiting him to merely hitting home runs every day, which, of course, is still a far better fate than that of Prigozhin, who (6.) incredibly was still hanging around Russia two months after abruptly stopping his coup attempt against Vladimir Putin about 150 miles from Moscow, (7.) foolishly trusting Putin’s promise to let him go live peaceably in Belarus and (8.) inexplicably packing his private plane with other leaders of his Wagner paramilitary force, making it easier for an “unexplained” explosion to wipe them all out in one fell swoop, (9.) demonstrating that Putin is not limited to using falls from high windows or poison to eliminate those he perceives as enemies, (10.) a scary reputation that the aforementioned arrested  former president, Donald Trump, would undoubtedly  enjoy having, rather than that of a (11.) lying traitor who led a conspiracy and fomented

The mug shot.

The mug shot.

violence to try to overturn a legitimate election he had lost, (12.) illegally concealed classified government documents, (13.) used campaign funds to pay hush money to cover up an affair he had with a porn star while his wife was tending to their young child, (14.) raped a woman in a dressing room at Bergdorf Goodman and slandered her even after he was found guilty, (15.) defrauded New York State of millions in taxes, and (16) continues to threaten and insult judges, prosecutors and (rare) political opponents who dare to speak the truth about him and to support the rule of law, all to (17.) rile up his supporters and to ostensibly raise money for his presidential campaign, but which will probably go to (18.) pay his monumental legal expenses so that he can find lawyers willing to represent him, which is not easy given his cheapskate reputation, none of which seems to bother his legion of loyal followers, who (19.) continue to ignore reality and send him money every time he plays the “victim” of the system routine, proving that (20.) P.T. Barnum was right when he (allegedly) said, “There’s a sucker (or a few million) born every minute,” which includes anyone who believes that the flabby Trump is 6 feet 3 inches tall and weighs a mere 215 pounds, as an aide entered in the record for him when he was booked in Atlanta, (21) in a circus scene lacking only Barnum’s famous sign, “This way to the egress,” * (22.), to which I say, soon, please, Universe.

      Shohei wins.

(* Tommy John was a good left-handed pitcher, who won 288 games in 26 seasons, including two 20-win seasons for the New York Yankees.)

(*When you went though the door to get to the  “egress,” you had to pay to get back in to the sideshow. Trump would’ve loved Barnum.)

rjgaydos@gmail.com

Free speech, free press, free fall

Sunday, August 20th, 2023

By Bob Gaydos

The Marion County Record … still publishing

The Marion County Record … still publishing

     There has been plenty of news coverage of the daily stream of complaints from the twice-impeached, four times indicted former president that (1.) accusing him of crimes (91 of them) for things he has said and trying to silence him from talking about the accusations constitute an attack on his First Amendment right of free speech, but (2.) the most recent legitimate threat to the First Amendment has received much less attention, possibly because it happened in Marion, Kansas, where the entire sheriff’s force raided the offices of the local paper, the Marion County Record, and the home of its owners, taking computers, phones, notebooks, etc., looking for the source of information on embarrassing news about a local politician and a business owner, even though the paper had not published articles on either person and despite a warrant that the local DA invalidated two days after the raid as unwarranted, leading (3.) news media organizations to denounce the rare government interference in the operation of a free press, an action which the editor said (4.) created stress which contributed to the death of his 98-year-old mother and newspaper co-owner a day after the raid, which is tragic, as is each of (5.) the estimated 49,500 people who committed suicide in the United States last year, the highest number ever, according to a report from the Centers for Disease Control, which said suicides had become more commmon in America than any period since just before World War II, a war whose outcome established the former Soviet Union as a world power, to fear and grudgingly respect, both of which were absent as (6.) Ukraine continued its counteroffensive in the disastrous war launched against it by Russian President Vladimir Putin, which revealed the weakness of Russia’s military, and (7.) Russia’s robotic Luna-25 spacecraft crashed on the surface of the moon, much as (8.) Hunter Biden’s plea deal on tax fraud and gun charges did when a judge

Hunter Biden

Hunter Biden

refused to accept the terms and (9.) Britain’s hopes of magically winning a World Cup in women’s soccer did when gritty Spain won the title match, one-nothing, which (10.) experts said was pretty much what Hawaii had done to prepare for the disastrous wildfire that devastated Maui, leveling a town and killing more than a hundred people, the kind of devastation Democrats could experience in 2024 if (11.) the deceptively named No Labels Party runs a candidate for president, since the moderate-conservative group wouldn’t take away any of Trump’s loyal followers (assuming he’s not in prison), but could sway some independents away from voting for Joe Biden, who (12.) practiced statesmanship by hosting the leaders of Japan and South Korea, traditional rivals if not enemies, at Camp David, to forge an alliance in the three countries’ favor, kind of the opposite approach of Trump, who (13.) said he would skip the scheduled Republican presidential candidates debate in favor of an interview with Tucker Carlson somewhere Trump can presumably demonstrate his right to free speech ad nauseum without fear of someone confronting him with facts, kind of like (14.) Rudy Giuliani‘s approach claiming that the RICO law, which he is charged with violating in trying to overturn the 2020 presidential election results in Georgia, does not apply to conspiracies among political  figures, even though, as the first U.S. prosecutor to use the law, Giuliani, who (15.) has experienced an epic fall from 9/11 grace, (16.) once bragged how he used it against Mayor Ed Koch and other New York City political figures. 

     Ain’t karma great?

rjgaydos@gmail.com

 

What Would Barbara Say About Today’s GOP? A Tribute to a Colleague and Straight-shooter

Wednesday, August 2nd, 2023

By Bob Gaydos

Barbara Bedell

Barbara Bedell

 A colleague with whom I spent 29 years carefully avoiding talking politics died the other day. In my sorrow at her passing, I contemplated what it would be like talking politics with her today.

    She would have hated it.

    Barbara Bedell was a prominent fixture at the Times Herald-Record in Middletown, NY, when I started working there in 1978. She was an even more prominent fixture when I retired from the newspaper 29 years later.

      She remained another 10 years, cranking out her daily column of news you can’t find in local papers today. Fund-raisers, charities, non-profits, civic organizations, the stuff that makes a community. Names, names, names. Everyone wanted their name or their group mentioned in Barbara’s column.

      I worked at a desk next to hers for about a decade. It offered handy access to the famous Bedell candy dish and was close enough to share gossip.

     Barbara knew a lot of people. But she also knew about being discreet and had learned to reconcile her somewhat conservative political views with the decidedly liberal views offered daily on the paper’s editorial page, editorials written for the most part by me.

     I knew she was a longtime, loyal registered Republican, a Ronald Reagan Republican, from her proud roots in Annapolis to stops in South Dakota and Poughkeepsie. She often donated to Republican political campaigns, but she never let her political preferences influence who was mentioned in her column. Or who was not. She played it straight.

     It was that straight-shooter trait I remembered when I ran into Barbara four years after I had retired. I was working on a column for my blog and the 2012 presidential campaign was in full swing.

   Not having talked politics in a while, I asked, in total innocence, “What do you think of the presidential candidates your party is offering?”

      She did not disappoint.

       “It is absurd, insulting. None of them is qualified. It’s embarrassing. Obama is going to win in a landslide. I couldn’t vote for any of them.”

    “Not even Romney?”

    “No.”

     “But how did this happen? How did this gang become the Republican Party’s best and brightest?”

     “They’re not. And all those (Tea Party) Republicans who got elected last time are going to lose next time. It’s a disgrace. I got phone calls from all the Republican campaign fund-raising committees. I told them not to call me. I’m not giving any of them any money.”

       “So who would you like to see run for president?” I asked Barbara.

        “Hillary Clinton. And don’t use my name.”

        “Spoken like a true Republican,” I wrote.

         It was a great kicker for the column, but how prophetic those last lines proved to be.

         A disgrace, she had called her party’s leading figures at the time. The Republican candidates for president in December of 2011, when Barbara and I had this brief conversation, were Rick Perry, Michele Bachmann, Herman Cain, Ron Paul, Rick Santorum, Newt Gingrich and the two Mormon candidates, Jon Huntsman and Mitt Romney.

       The field ate each other up. Huntsman was too smart and reasonable. Romney simply said whatever the audience of the day wanted to hear. He won. Then, as Barbara predicted, Obama beat him.

        The story at the time was that loyal Republicans kept quiet about the candidates’ obvious lack of presidential qualifications until and unless they were vying for the same nomination. Republican candidates could see their fellow candidates’ flaws all too clearly. They keep quiet about them only when it suited them to do otherwise.

    The traditional party faithful, the “moderates,” as Barbara described herself, mostly kept their opinions of the candidates to themselves. And Barbara was wrong about one thing: Some of those Tea Party candidates kept winning. As a result, the party core steadily became more and more conservative, anti-science, anti-immigrant. anti-education, anti-gay, anti-anything but white, Christian nationalist philosophy.

      Mostly, they kept this to themselves as well. Then Donald Trump came along and let them out of the closet to trumpet their ignorance, intolerance and occasional inclination to violence. Party leaders, well aware of the shortcomings of Trump and many of their fellow elected Republicans, again kept it to themselves.

      And so fear and cowardice have become the bywords of the Republican Party today. It doesn’t matter that what you know in your heart is true, just do not speak ill of the ignorant elite if you don’t want to lose your job, or worse.

    Today, having become the party of Trump — a man twice impeached, found guilty of sexual assault, charged with campaign finance fraud for paying hush money to a porn star, indicted for attempting to overturn the legitimate results of an election, a conspiracy to threaten the rights of others, a conspiracy to obstruct an official proceeding before Congress and obstruction of an official proceeding, about to be indicted for a separate conspiracy to overturn the results of a legitimate election and indicted for concealing and refusing to return classified government documents  — the continued silence of most Republicans is deafening.

      So what would my departed friend and colleague, Barbara Bedell, think of the Republican Party candidates for president today?

       I don’t think she’d mind me speculating. Listening over the divider that separated our desks, I think I can hear her muttering quietly, “They’re a disgrace, Gaydos. An embarrassment to America. And you can quote me.”

rjgaydos@gmail.com